One of my dear friends started developing severe memory loss when she turned 85. In the course of that, she also became severely ill and had to go to the hospital. After three days in the hospital, she wasn’t just forgetting things. She had developed full dementia. She didn’t recognize me at all, even though we were very close. When I walked in to visit her she was having a tea party with three other imaginary friends. Fortunately, her brother-in-law had quite a bit of experience taking care of older relatives. He did his homework and followed up with the doctors. They discovered it wasn’t what a staff person told me, that “old people often totally lose it when they go into the hospital.” Instead it turned out it was caused by the combination of two of her medications. As soon as they adjusted her medication, she was back to normal. Very forgetful, but she knew me again!
Sadly, that can still happen today. It’s just as vital for us to do our own homework and follow up with doctors for all the medications our beloveds take, not to mention what we take. I have a great resource for you that Alzheimer’s Reading Room wrote about. I want to encourage any of you with aged parents, relatives, and friends to head over there and read today’s article. Then click on that link and print out and save the two lists of 136 Drugs that can cause cognitive impairment . It’s only going to be available to non-subscribers for a few days, until April 7. I’m familiar with the site, and think that it is vital information for all of us. I would suggest that you print that list and take it with you whenever you go to the doctor, or take an aged parent to the doctor. Discuss with the doctor the list along with any other drugs s/he is prescribing that isn’t on the list, the possible ramifications, and all the possible side effects of any new drug and of the impact a new drug will have on other drugs AND non-drug pills, like vitamins, that you or they are taking.
It’s not fun watching a beloved aged parent drift away into dementia and hallucinations. Sometimes we don’t get a choice. When we do have the choice, though, it’s a blessing to them as well as to us. A big THANK YOU to Alzheimer’s Reading Room and the creators of the list for a big help to all of us.